Articles

POVERTY IN RURAL AREAS

By Gideon Juma

The rural settlements or countryside are essential regions in the nation’s economic sector. Despite advancements in urban farming, they hold a significant mandate in producing farm and animal products for consumption throughout the nation. They are the country’s food basket, ensuring food security. Rural regions have contributed significantly to the economy, but the results do not reciprocate the farmers’ efforts. Large rural areas are experiencing poverty, depleted infrastructure, financial illiteracy, impoverished working conditions, exploitation, and other challenges.

Let’s explore poverty, an issue in the economic decline of rural areas that affects society as a whole. Traditionally, agriculture has been considered a way to lift rural households out of poverty. However, the sector faces obstacles hindering its ability to address poverty effectively. Most people in rural areas are subsistence farmers with limited land for farming and basic living, lacking capital for modern farming methods, which leads to low productivity levels.

Farmers rely on the quantity and quality of their products to sustain themselves, but with limited additional income sources, they often fall into poverty. In rural areas, income opportunities are scarce, and the wages from available jobs are meagre. From 2014 to 2022, the percentage of income generated from the farms increased from 42% to 55%. Despite earning less overall, poorer households depend more on this off-farm income. The ability of households to earn enough from off-farm sources is constrained by their resources, skills, and the availability of non-farm jobs in rural areas. Plantation workers face dangerous working conditions that can harm their health and lead to high medical costs. Farmers in rural regions are often exploited by middlemen and cartels who pay low prices for their products, leaving them with minimal profits. Subdividing land has gradually reduced the amount available for agriculture, further limiting rural households’ ability to make a living from farming.

In rural areas, land markets are underdeveloped, possibly due to insecure land tenure, which hinders meaningful land leasing for agriculture. Smallholder farmers often have access to short-term leases season by season. Agriculture faces climatic shocks, disease, pests, soil degradation, market volatility, and limited investment from the public and private sectors. These factors, particularly for households cultivating extensive land, expose them to production and market shocks, increasing vulnerability to poverty. Off-farm income from various sources like salaries, businesses, or remittances is becoming increasingly important for rural households. Also, higher levels of formal education, like tertiary education, lead to a higher likelihood of migration to urban areas for better opportunities, particularly for escaping poverty.

The rural settlements or countryside are essential regions in the nation’s economic sector. Despite advancements in urban farming, they hold a significant mandate in producing farm and animal products for consumption throughout the nation. They are the country’s food basket, ensuring food security. Rural regions have contributed significantly to the economy, but the results do not reciprocate the farmers’ efforts. Large rural areas are experiencing poverty, depleted infrastructure, financial illiteracy, impoverished working conditions, exploitation, and other challenges.

Let’s explore poverty, an issue in the economic decline of rural areas that affects society as a whole. Traditionally, agriculture has been considered a way to lift rural households out of poverty. However, the sector faces obstacles hindering its ability to address poverty effectively. Most people in rural areas are subsistence farmers with limited land for farming and basic living, lacking capital for modern farming methods, which leads to low productivity levels.

Farmers rely on the quantity and quality of their products to sustain themselves, but with limited additional income sources, they often fall into poverty. In rural areas, income opportunities are scarce, and the wages from available jobs are meagre. From 2014 to 2022, the percentage of income generated from the farms increased from 42% to 55%. Despite earning less overall, poorer households depend more on this off-farm income. The ability of households to earn enough from off-farm sources is constrained by their resources, skills, and the availability of non-farm jobs in rural areas. Plantation workers face dangerous working conditions that can harm their health and lead to high medical costs. Farmers in rural regions are often exploited by middlemen and cartels who pay low prices for their products, leaving them with minimal profits. Subdividing land has gradually reduced the amount available for agriculture, further limiting rural households’ ability to make a living from farming.

In rural areas, land markets are underdeveloped, possibly due to insecure land tenure, which hinders meaningful land leasing for agriculture. Smallholder farmers often have access to short-term leases season by season. Agriculture faces climatic shocks, disease, pests, soil degradation, market volatility, and limited investment from the public and private sectors. These factors, particularly for households cultivating extensive land, expose them to production and market shocks, increasing vulnerability to poverty. Off-farm income from various sources like salaries, businesses, or remittances is becoming increasingly important for rural households. Also, higher levels of formal education, like tertiary education, lead to a higher likelihood of migration to urban areas for better opportunities, particularly for escaping poverty.

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